By: Cindy Annis – November, 2015
Cher was born on May 20, 1946 in El Centro, California. Her real name is Cherilyn Sarkisian. Her parents divorced when Cher was ten months old. Being of a poor, broken home was tough for the young Cher. At one point, her mother felt she had to put her into an orphanage.
When she got into the fifth grade, she began singing. By age 16, Cher left home to start a new life. She moved to Los Angeles to take acting classes. When she would dance in small clubs to support herself, she would talk to any managers to get an audition either singing or acting. In 1962, Cher met Sonny Bono.
Sonny Bono was born in Detroit on February 16, 1935. His real name was Salvatore Phillip Bono. His mother gave him the nickname Sonny. His career started in the early 1960s. He worked for record producer Phil Spector at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood. He was the promotion man, the gofer, and a percussionist. He met a then sixteen-year-old girl named Cher in a Los Angeles coffee shop in 1962.
At first, Cher was a backup singer on songs like “Be My Baby,” by the Ronettes and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” by the Righteous Brothers.
At the beginning of their career together, the duo was called “Caesar and Cleo. At the time, they recorded on both Vault and Reprise Record Label.
In 1965, “Baby Don’t Go” was released under the name Sonny and Cher. The song went to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100’s in August of 1965. That same year, the album “Look At Us” was released. It contained the #1 song “I Got You Babe”. That same year, five of their songs were on Billboard’s top 20 list.
In 1966, they released another album called “The Wondrous World of Sonny And Cher”. The album only reached #34 on the charts. That didn’t stop the success of the duo. They went on tour, calling it “The Wondrous World Tour.” Sonny wore cowboy boots, while Cher performed barefoot.
In 1968 after releasing three albums, people stopped listening to them. The public was bored with their clean, drug free songs and life. Their 1967 movie “Good Times” didn’t help their career either.
In 1971, Sonny and Cher found a new career opportunity. They starred in a TV special called “The Nitty Gritty Hour”, a variety show of sorts. This show got them spots on other variety shows and eventually getting their own show. Program director of CBS, Fred Silverman, offered the duo “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour”. The show ran from August of 1971, until May 1974, and was a Top 20 in the ratings for the full run. It would have continued if it weren’t for Sonny and Cher divorcing in 1974.
Before Sonny died, he married Mary Mack and went into politics. On January 5, 1998 he died at the age of 62. He hit a tree while skiing at the Heavenly Ski Resort at Lake Tahoe. His funeral was live on CNN. He is buried in Desert Memorial Park. This is near Cathedral City, California, where Frank Sinatra also rests. Cher continues to enjoy a flourishing singing career and has had numerous acting roles such as “Mask” in 1985, and “Witches of Eastwick” in 1987, to mention just a couple.
Tune into Cindy’s Vinyl Vault on AM 980 WCAP Sunday nights from 10-midnight, Monday nights from 11-midnight, and Wednesday night’s 9-11. We’ll play your requests from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. You’ll also learn some interesting facts about the songs you love. Until next month, remember, it’s not how old it is, but how great it sounds.